Stieg Larsson was the editor in chief of the magazine Expo. He was a leading expert on anti-democratic, right-wing extremist organizations. He died in 2004, soon after delivering the manuscripts of the novels The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo and its sequels. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo is translated from the Swedish by Reg Keeland.
With its rich characterizations and intriguing plot, the first book of the late Stieg Larsson's completed trilogy, involving disgraced Swedish journalist-publisher Mikael Blomkvist and the eponymous, pierced and tattooed, emotionally troubled young hacker-investigator Lisbeth Salander, clearly deserves the acclaim it's received overseas. Martin Wenner's almost indifferent, British-accented narration would seem an odd choice for a novel filled with passion, sex and violence, but as the oddly coupled Blomkvist and Salander probe the four-decade-old disappearance of Harriet Vanger, heiress to one of Sweden's wealthiest clans, the objective approach actually accentuates the extreme behavior of both and the strange subjects of their investigation. Wenner's calm, controlled manner aids the listener in keeping track of the numerous members of the Vanger family, a task that the printed book simplifies with a reference page. A Knopf hardcover (Reviews, July 14). (Sept.) Copyright 2008 Reed Business Information.
Ever since Knopf editor Sonny Mehta bought the U.S. rights last November, the prepublication buzz on this dark, moody crime thriller by a Swedish journalist has grown steadily. A best seller in Europe (it outsold the Bible in Denmark), this first entry in the "Millennium" trilogy finally lands in America. Is the hype justified? Yes. Despite a sometimes plodding translation and a few implausible details, this complex, multilayered tale, which combines an intricate financial thriller with an Agatha Christie-like locked-room mystery set on an island, grabs the reader from the first page. Convicted of libeling a prominent businessman and awaiting imprisonment, financial journalist Mikael Blomkvist agrees to industrialist Henrik Vanger's request to investigate the 40-year-old disappearance of Vanger's 16-year-old niece, Harriet. In return, Vanger will help Blomkvist dig up dirt on the corrupt businessman. Assisting in Blomkvist's investigation is 24-year-old Lisbeth Salander, a brilliant but enigmatic computer hacker. Punkish, tattooed, sullen, antisocial, and emotionally damaged, she is a compelling character, much like Carol O'Connell's Kathy Mallory, and this reviewer looks forward to learning more of her backstory in the next two books (The Girl Who Played with Fire and Castles in the Sky). Sweden may be the land of blondes, Ikea, and the Midnight Sun, but Larsson, who died in 2004, brilliantly exposes its dark heart: sexual violence against women, a Nazi past, and corporate corruption. Highly recommended. [See Prepub Alert, LJ 5/1/03.]--Wilda Williams, Library Journal Copyright 2008 Reed Business Information.
"An intelligent, ingeniously plotted, utterly engrossing thriller
that is variously a serial-killer saga, a search for a missing
person and an informed glimpse into the worlds of journalism and
business . . . Lisbeth is a punk Watson to Mikael's dapper Holmes,
and she's the coolest crime-fighting sidekick to come along in many
-Washington Post "An exceptional effort for a first-time crime novelist. In fact, a fine effort for any crime novelist . . . This book is meticulously plotted, beautifully paced, and features a cast of two indelible sleuths and many juicy suspects."
-Boston Globe "Combine the chilly Swedish backdrop and moody psychodrama of a Bergman movie with the grisly pyrotechnics of a serial-killer thriller, then add an angry punk heroine and a down-on-his-luck investigative journalist, and you have the ingredients of Stieg Larsson's first novel."
-Michiko Kakutani, The New York Times "The book lands in the United States as Wall Street sputters and global markets clench, a timely fit to Larsson's themes of corporate corruption. He tells his crime story cleverly, but the zing in Dragon Tattoo is inked in its two central characters."
-Cleveland Plain Dealer "A super-smart amalgam of the corporate corruption tale, legal thriller and dysfunctional-family psychological suspense story. It's witty and unflinching . . . Larsson's multi-pieced plot snaps together as neatly as an Ikea bookcase, but even more satisfying is the anti-social character of Salander."
-Maureen Corrigan, Fresh Air (NPR)
"It's like a blast of cold, fresh air to read The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo . . . It features at its center two unique and fascinating characters: a disgraced financial journalist and the absolutely marvelous 24-year-old Lisbeth Salander-a computer-hacking Pippi Longstocking with pierced eyebrows and a survival instinct that should scare anyone who gets in her way."
"Larsson's novel could serve as the definition of page-turner . . . The worst part: We have to wait until summer '09 for the second installment."
-Time Out New York
"The biggest Swedish phenom since ABBA."
"Imagine the movies of Ingmar Bergman crossed with Thomas Harris's novel The Silence of the Lambs. Larsson's mesmerizing tale succeeds because, like P.D. James, he has written a why-dunit rather than a whodunit."
-USA Today "A whip-smart heroine and a hunky guy who needs her help? This sexy, addictive thriller is everything you never knew you could get from a crime novel."
"Larsson's debut thriller succeeds on so many levels it's hard to know where to begin. First off, it's an absolute page-turner. But the characters are so fascinating and the clear, understated writing so graceful, you are going to want to savor it . . . Electrifying."
-Portsmouth Herald (NH) "Is the hype justified? Yes . . . This complex, multilayered tale grabs the reader from the first page."
-Library Journal (starred)
"The first U.S. appearance of another major Swedish crime writer is cause for celebration . . . The novel offers compelling chunks of investigative journalism, high-tech sleuthing, and psychosexual drama. What a shame that we only have three books in which to watch the charismatic Lisbeth Salander take on the world!"
-Booklist "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo is a striking novel. Just when I was thinking there wasn't anything new on the horizon, along comes Stieg Larsson with this wonderfully unique story. I was completely absorbed."
-Michael Connelly "I doubt you will read a better book this year."
-Val McDermid "Dark, labyrinthine, smart, sexy, utterly original, and completely captivating, Stieg Larsson's The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo delights at every level. Nuanced, sympathetic characters, caught in a tangle of unusual and compelling relationships, grapple with a baffling family mystery and with their own demons in the unique literary environment of modern-day Sweden. This book is artful and grand entertainment. I couldn't recommend it more highly."
-John Lescroart "So much more than a thriller, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo is a dazzling novel of big ideas. It tackles issues of power, corruption, justice, and innocence-all the while drawing you into the twists and turns of a frighteningly suspenseful mystery."
-Harlan Coben "As vivid as bloodstains on snow."
"The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo is an utterly fresh political and journalistic thriller that is also intimate and moral. In spite of its dark unearthings Stieg Larsson has written a feast of a book, with central characters you will not forget."
-Michael Ondaatje "Cases rarely come much colder than the decades-old disappearance of teen heiress Harriet Vanger from her family's remote island retreat north of Stockholm, nor do fiction debuts hotter than this European bestseller . . . At once a strikingly original thriller and a vivisection of Sweden's dirty not-so-little secrets, this first of a trilogy introduces a provocatively odd couple."
-Publishers Weekly (starred) "What a cracking novel! I haven't read such a stunning thriller debut for years. The way Larsson interweaves his two stories had me in thrall from beginning to end. Brilliantly written and totally gripping."
"With its compelling situation, its complex plot and especially its unique, fully-realized characters, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo embodies-in seamless translation-the best of European crime fiction."
-S.J. Rozan "The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo is a Tolstoyan re-invention of the 'closed room' murder mystery, Agatha Christie for adults. Curl up on the sofa with this masterwork of noir and let Stieg Larsson draw you into the shadows. It's also a profound investigation into tribal violence in the world of high finance, and a revelation of the dark side of a country normally seen as the very height of propriety. By the end of the first chapter you will know better. By the end of the second you will be putty in his hands. Don't even think about putting it down."
-John Burdett From the UK: "Crime fiction has seldom needed to salute and mourn such a stellar talent as Larsson's in the same breath."
-The Sunday Times "Larsson has up his sleeve two extremely engaging protagonists. Once these characters have appeared, our surrender to the novel is guaranteed . . . This is classic English mystery territory. But what follows is much darker and bloodier-more Thomas Harris than Dorothy L. Sayers."
"The ballyhoo is fully justified . . . The novel scores on every front-character, story, atmosphere, and the translation."
"This is a striking novel, full of passion, an evocative sense of place and subtle insights into venal, corrupt minds . . . The journalist and the hacker are ingenious creations."
"One of the greatest crime-fiction novels I have ever read . . . As mesmerizing as it is insightful . . . The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo is a multi-layered, multi-character tale by a writer of some considerable power. Full of social conscience and compassion, with insight into the nature of moral corruption, it knocked me out . . . Mikael Blomkvist and his partner, the enigmatic and deeply troubled Lisbeth Salander, will soon join the pantheon of greatest crime-fiction characters that populate the genre at its apex."
-Shots Magazine "A blockbuster story . . . The plot is interesting and credible but above all the heroine is splendidly original . . . An extraordinary book."
"An absorbing and idiosyncratic crime novel."